Good to Great English, vol. 1
Week by week, we dig out words, expressions and stories to bring you English worth remembering. Unlike a textbook, our English is alive and in keeping with the times.
Here were are, 7 days into the new year and 51 more weeks to go! May 2021 be a year of health, possibilities and opportunities for us all!
For us, this means curating the Good to Great English newsletter to step up and maintain your English skills. Week by week, we dig out words, expressions and stories to bring you English worth remembering. Our English is alive and well, in keeping with the times.
Your participation and feedback will make it even more relevant and interesting to us all, so feel free to comment. A podcast will accompany Good to Great English once we get a hand on the process. Bear with us! Thanks!
Out with the old, in with the new!
There are lots of traditions around the world to celebrate the passage from December 31st to January 1st. Some are dainty, like eating 12 grapes, others are loud or explosive, from popping bottles of champagne to exploding fireworks.
My mother used to ring a set of Balinese bells - sparkling sounds loud enough to shake time itself, sweep away deadwood and bring in new hope and growth. This year, billions of us are preoccupied with the pandemic - health, immunity, vaccines, work, school, the economy, politics… and wondering when it will be safe to cross borders and visit loved ones.
At the very least, the old year swept certainty out the window.
Sure also means "certain", like I'm sure, or It's a sure thing, or Let me assure you that… It finds its origins in French (sure) and before that in the Latin "securus" meaning "free from care". Bringing us back to greater certainty are "secure" and "security", feelings we crave in 2021.
On the bright side, the Orthodox Christmas is on January 7th and makes the jolly season last a little longer.
A custodial president
Although Joe Biden hasn't made an official pledge, he almost certainly won't be running in 2024. This should make him a single term president by choice. His mandate is to rebuild democratic institutions, alliances and human relationships, tackle the pandemic and the economy, etc. In other words, over four years, he'll take care of the country and (try to) fix problems already out of hand.
As a transitional and caring figure in these times, he takes the role of a custodial president which is a rather agreeable way to be remembered! His four-year term begins on Inauguration Day, January 20th.
custodian - custodial - custody
A custodian is a caretaker, a guardian who protects and maintains something.
For example, school custodians take care of school grounds, clean common areas and classrooms, remain in charge and available 24/7 while a janitor is a cleaner with set working hours.
In a prison setting, the custodian has custody over detainee matters, in theory “in theory balancing authority, compassion and empathy” as explained in the purpose of the job in the 2016 English job description below.
Children are under the shared responsibility of their parents. After divorce or separation, legal custody is awarded as joint custody or single custody. Strong disagreements lead to custody battles.
Two Quotes from Joe
“You always put yourself in the other person's position, and then also to understand where they're coming from, whether it's a major foreign leader or a friend whom you have a disagreement with. And it's also being willing to share credit, give recognition, and share in the benefits as well as in the losses if you're in an endeavor together.”
"Today … we must cultivate the science of human relationships — the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together in the same world at peace,’” Biden said. “To live together and work together. That’s how I see America. That’s how I see the presidency, and that’s how I see the future.”
The Facts Bear Me Out
By no means is this a political newsletter, but this week's news is giving us lots of hard-to-refuse fodder*. Donald Trump's Twitter account has been blocked but he did issue a statement through his communication advisor:
"Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless, there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. "
I had to laugh! Who hasn't been reminded of an unpleasant experience when someone "agrees to disagree," grudgingly accepts to do something AND tells you it is all wrong?
From a language perspective, the facts bear me out means the facts support me. We'll have a closer look at the verb "bear" next week. It is a language goldmine that finds its roots in Indo-European, and has survived millennia through Sanskrit, Greek and Latin, and many others since. Consequently, you may find words that sound similar in your own native language as 46% of us across the world are native speakers of a language from the Indo-European language family.
As a teaser:
Please bear in mind we are still working out details on podcasting - to be mindful, keep in your thoughts
The Queen bore a son - give birth to
Bear with me - be patient with me, be tolerant
Recipe: Homemade eggnog
To end on a holiday-tinged note, this eggnog recipe was made from scratch, tested and met with great success over the holiday season. The alcohol-free version is just as good. Ironically, if you follow the link below to discover this recipe, you'll get a pop-up for a "5-week healthy meal plan". This means we are either 5 weeks before summer or in January, doing penance after holiday feasts or embarking on a New Year's Resolution.
Book Club and Speaking Club
The Book Club is a speaking experience and opens on January 21st (after Inauguration Day) with Brené Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection. We read around 20 pages per week and then talk about the book and address language issues if any, with participants from across the globe.
The Secret Garden Conversation Club meets every two weeks until mi-February, and then weekly.
Zoom fatigue and dull online learning exist, but this is different experience! I love connecting with people around the world through great conversation. We bring a bit of ourselves, take from others, and bring it all back into our daily lives. It’s about meaningful sharing and enriching our lives with valuable perspectives (and improving/maintaining English skills, levels intermediate and above).
What about you?
Choose 1 topic: For example, tell us about your holidays (or lack of). Have you got a favorite recipe to share? Have you made any new year's resolutions? Do you have any language questions? What book(s) are you reading now? A favorite song?
Biden quote 1: https://www.inc.com/jason-aten/this-11-word-quote-from-joe-biden-shows-why-empathy-is-a-leadership-superpower.html
Biden quote 2: https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/10/27/joe-biden-quotes-fdr-goal-heal-pandemic-political-divisions/5989076002/
Fodder: (figuratively) Stuff; material; something that serves as inspiration or encouragement, especially for satire or humour. From https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fodder
2016 Job description: Prison Custody Officer: https://community.sodexojobs.co.uk/members/modules/jobV2/fdownload.php?j=e5187aa2f885eb4c&f=9b8ac01b132c2bc2
Donald Trump statement:
Eggnog recipe: https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/homemade-eggnog/
Book Club: https://learn.ohyes.ch/courses/step-up-book-club-january-2021/preview
Secret Garden Conversation Club: check out our Facebook page for updates, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.